Nigeria has been battling with the menace of Boko Haram for the past 11 years. The country has expended inestimable financial and human resources in the fight against insurgency, yet there appears to be no end to terrorism if the former service chiefs’ presentation at the National Assembly is anything to go by. Today, Boko Haram has metamorphosed into banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminality.
Security experts and other stakeholders have, over the years, suggested a foreign collaboration with a view to strengthening Nigeria’s military might towards defeating the Boko Haram terrorists. Not much has been done in this regard. And who is in a better position to drive this collaboration than the military Generals who have seen it all at the war front? These Generals know the reality on the ground more than anyone else.
Foreign security collaboration exists when two or more countries are willing to act together to address a mutually identified security concern, in the belief that this will improve security information and support for their countries. That is the kind of collaboration that we are hoping that the appointment of the ex-service chiefs as ambassadors will drive in the overall interest of Nigeria. This is no time for sentiments or regional politics.
Ambassadors are the highest-ranking diplomats sent abroad to represent a country’s interests. The president appoints ambassadors to act as his representatives in other nations. Normally stationed in an embassy in the host nation’s capital, an ambassador is responsible for overseeing all government activities in that country to further foreign policy goals. The president can also appoint non-career ambassadors based on the expectation that they will bring unique talent or expertise to the particular ambassadorial post. The president also selects ambassadors based on their contributions to nation building and socio-economic growth of the country.
An ambassador’s main function is to advance the interests of one’s country. These interests include promoting trade and security, maintaining access to resources, facilitating cultural ties, and protecting the lives of citizens abroad. Ambassadors must be able to convey the president’s goals to the host nation’s government. Sometimes they are called upon to negotiate agreements on behalf of the president. Ambassadors are responsible for assessing the political climate in their host country and analysing important events. These are delicate matters you don’t give to political jobbers, novices or greenhorns to handle.
This is why, as a newspaper, we consider the nomination of the immediate past service chiefs as ambassadors by President Muhammadu Buhari as the right step in the right direction. We want to believe that this was what guided the President in his nomination of the Ex-service Chiefs. Their appointment will, no doubt, drive foreign military collaboration which will help to defeat terrorism that has ravaged the North East since 2009. The former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (rtd); former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai (rtd); former Chief of Air Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok Ibas (rtd); former Chief of Naval Staff, Air Vice Marshall Sadique Abubakar (rtd), and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S. Usman (rtd) are men of great military intelligence who are imminently qualified for this patriotic assignment.
Foreign relations require deeper diplomatic skills to deal with real issues such as the Boko Haram terrorism ravaging our country. The nomination of the former service chiefs, in our opinion, is putting a square peg on a square hole. The National Assembly should, as matter of obligation, consider the nomination on the basis of merit, qualification and capacity. The Senate is to see the screening and approval processes as an opportunity to contribute its quota to the fight against terrorism.
Again, it is the constitutional responsibility of the president to nominate people who he believes are worthy to represent the country. The National Assembly, on its part, is to scrutinise the nominations and decide on them. What is important is to ensure that people who will be our representatives in other countries are persons with the highest personal and professional credentials and character. And on this note, the ex-service chiefs have not been found wanting.
Although, the primary responsibility of government as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is to ensure security of lives and property, the reality is that government alone cannot discharge this responsibility effectively. We all must see security as a collective responsibility. Let’s all play our part as the ex-service chiefs go out there to play their part. It’s time they fought the battle from the outside.